Now, let's continue our voyage!
We are now onboard the ship!
Once you are on board, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
#1 Your stateroom probably won't be ready for a while. It depends on how fast they get everything cleaned from the previous cruisers (so remember that when you disembark.) Usually it is around 1pm, but could be earlier or later. They will not make the announcement until ALL staterooms are ready. So if you are planning on swimming or riding the wonderful water slide the Aqua Duck, pack a swimsuit in your carry on!
#2 Eat Lunch!
Now, also keep in mind that EVERY ONE will be doing the same thing...so the ship will feel much more crowded (and a bit chaotic) at this point than at any other point during the cruise.
Even though I studied the deck plans before hand, I was over whelmed when first boarding. We were starving and I completely forgot where to find Cabanas! (Great place for buffet lunch ...or breakfast for that matter). Luckily helpful Cast Members are willing to assist! We were soon enjoying a scrumptious lunch sitting with a view of the water!
A quick note about Cabanas...there are tons of seating inside in the air conditioning, and loads of seating on the deck outside, some shaded and some in full sun. Once you have your cabins, you can even take your food back to the cabin and eat on your balcony...or in the room if you want to. The thing my kids loved the most...if you get up early they could eat breakfast with Mom...and then brunch with Dad, then lunch together as a family, then snacks later on...well you get the idea. My kids LOVE to eat!
Another nice note about Disney Cruises. We were on the first ship that started doing this and it was a little new to the crew and Cast Members as well as the passengers. Be prepared to be handed sanitizer hand wipes all the time! Upon embarking, upon entering ANY place to eat, upon entering the theater...all the time! There were multiple cast members handing wipes at every doorway... The joke was that Disney had bought stock in hand wipes! If you walked into the restaurant to see if some member of your party was there, to discover they weren't walked back through the door and saw them then re-entered...yup, hand wipes. It was a great safety and healthy trick. It was reported that on any given ship they expect at least 10% of the passengers to catch the dreaded tummy bug...our sailing only had a small handful, and they probably had it before entering the ship.
Since everyone had the same idea for lunch, it can be a bit crowded, loud and hectic. We found a nice out of the way spot to sit, and people watched for a while. Just before we were ready to grab some dessert, the announcement was made that he cabins were ready. We finished our meal.
There are a lot of elevators and stairways on the ship. There are also a lot of people on the ship. Most of these people were trying to leave the decks above and head to their staterooms. It was a good idea to finish desserts first. The announcement was made a little after 1 and we headed down around 1:30. Elevators had cleared out pretty well by then and we quickly found out stateroom.
Disney will tell you that your checked luggage will be ready around 4, and placed outside your stateroom door. As we were heading down the hallway, we discovered that a lot of the luggage was already in the hallway, including 2 of our 4 bags.
Now as I am about to post this, please remember that I am severely claustrophobic. SEVERELY!
My first impression of the cabin was it was small. I immediately went to the over sized balcony to catch my breath and relax. Upon returning to the cabin, I didn't feel so closed in, and actually started looking at the cabin. Taking the time to appreciate the decor. In the end, the only thing I seriously had issue with was the bathroom. TINY...but at least we had two..one with a sink and toilet, and one with a sink and shower. (which, with a teenaged daughter was GREAT!)
A couple of things about your key card. As we have already discussed, it contains a picture of you that is only visible to a CM with an iPad or at the scanners when you leave and return to the ship. It also has written on it your dining rotation with your table number as well as your muster station. It also contains your charging privileges. (which I do not add to the teens card!) If you loose it, go to guest services and they will make a new one immediately...no problem. Just remember that if you find the lost one, put it in your luggage. Because they kill the old one immediately!
By this time our other two bags had arrived and we quickly unpacked. During this time (while mama unpacked) the TV was turned on so we could see all the announcements about where to go for Muster... and other useful information. I love the way the bed is raised. All four pieces of luggage fit under the bed. Even though the room was on the small side, we quickly found storage space for everything.
During this time our steward stopped by to see if we needed anything. Asked us if we had any questions, and generally made us know that we were welcome and we were at home!
We still had a while before the mandatory muster, so we decided to take a stroll on our deck. We were on deck 5 and our Muster Station was on deck 4, so we decided to walk around and check out a few things on our deck. At the appointed time we made our way, slowly, to the Muster Station which was in the theater.
Our key cards were scanned and we were checked off the roster. We then were escorted to sit in a nice cushioned seat in an air conditioned theater. I mention this, because on some cruise lines they hold the muster out doors on a deck! Big difference here.
I had asked the CM upon entering for some special seating due to my claustrophobia and Mr D's issues, and there was no problem accommodating us.
The whole safety spiel was delivered by multiple cast members with a lot of fun! It was hard to not pay attention!
Afterwards, we were free to return to our staterooms or to join on the main deck for the Sail Away party. Since we knew it was going to be noisy, we preferred to avoid that particular party and watched the ship sail away from our balcony.
We didn't have much time before it was time to head for our first dining on the rotational dining plan that is unique to Disney. We had early dining which seats at 5:45) First up was Animator's Palate. I was really looking forward to this one I had heard so much about it! Unfortunately, we were all being affected quite a bit by the motion of the ship. With the restaurant being in the aft of the ship, it seemed to be more noticeable there. The meal was good but not so memorable...as my daughter had her head on the table most of the meal! I wish we had the opportunity to visit it again later in the sailing, but maybe next time.
The absolutely BEST thing about the rotational dining is the wait staff. On our first night they listened intently while we told them about food allergies and special needs. They made us feel like we were their ONLY guests that night (which was obviously NOT the case!) From the first greeting where they ceremonially put the napkin in your lap to the good bye as you left the dining room, you were treated royally.
In fact, we left before the waiter could get my order for the next night (Gluten free menus are available, but they need to know the night before to make sure it is prepared correctly), so he came after us to the door and got my order. He said he needed to make sure I had something safe to eat.
The one thing that I noticed about the food on board...it was exceptional! It was my first trip being gluten free and I had worried that I would find little to eat. At least 90% of the menu could be made gluten free. They made their own gluten free pasta as well as yummy gluten free rolls. My kids are picky eaters. In fact Miss B, although 14, ate off the kids menu the whole time. Plain cheese pizza was her favorite! They gave her larger portions, but it was definitely the kids menu! If you want two entrees, no problem. If you needed extra fries, no problem. If you wanted two appetizers, no problem. And if your kids have French Fries...even if they don't like ketchup...ask for it. The way they present it is amazing!
After dinner we were exhausted! But we still had the Villains Tonight Show to see. We almost passed on it, but I am so glad we did not! I won't spoil the show for others, but just know that having a Broadway caliber show to look forward to each night quickly became our most favorite part of the cruise!
A note about second seating for dining. It starts seating at 8:15. If you choose this seating, and have kids that love the kids clubs, you get the added bonus of having your entree without kids! They always deliver the kids meals first. Usually about the same time as your appetizers. Once the kids are finished, the kids club counselors come to pick up your kids to take them for some fun times in their clubs, giving you grown up alone times.
Another thing about Disney Cruises. You all know how well Disney is at crowd control and moving people around. After the initial crush, once we were sailing, you never felt that the ship was crowded. Dining starts first seating at 5:45, first show is at 6:15. Second seating for dinner is 8:15, with the second show at 8:30. They are moving roughly 3000 passengers around without it seeming to be a big deal! The waits for elevators was minimal, and the walk along the stairways seemed less of an exercise and more of a stroll.
Once we returned to our room, our Steward had turned down the bed (including the lowering of the top bunk), delivered our Navigator for the next day, made us a towel animal and gave us chocolates!
The beds were comfy and we quickly drifted off to sleep!
Up next...what will we do tomorrow?
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!